10 ways to encourage your child to talk to you

I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. I suspect that, as my kids get older, they might not always want to tell me what’s in their hearts.

Even now, while they are still very young, the news they share about their day at school or the time they spent playing with friends is becoming vaguer. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m nagging, and that bugs them, or maybe it’s just an age thing and part of them growing up and becoming more independent, and this means they share a little less.

Whatever the reason… it bothers me!

There is one incident in particular that stands out.

I went to fetch my daughter from school. I was a little early, so I decided to hang back and just watch her play. As I stood near the play area, I saw her running around with her friends.

They knelt down near a tree and the next second there was wailing. I could hear my little one repeating “I promise I didn’t hurt her”, “I promise I didn’t hurt her”.

Now you can imagine the scene. I knew I shouldn’t interfere, the teacher was handling it, but my maternal instincts were screaming, “That’s your child, you should interfere!”

I saw the girls giggle and run off again, so I knew it had been handled by the teacher.

We climbed into the car and I began to ask about her day, making sure I poked and prodded about the incident I just saw. Eventually, she looked at me and said: “Enough mommy, I don’t want to talk about it.”

There you have it. My daughter just shut me out and she’s almost four years old.

Turns out the girls were playing a game based on Frozen and were throwing sand in the air like snow and sand got into the other little one’s eyes. Totally innocent!

I must admit that even though I know it was going to happen, I don’t like the idea of my kids not always feeling like they can talk to me. Like any parent, I want them to know that they can trust me and my judgment.

So it got me thinking. How do I encourage my kids to know that I am always willing to listen?

Here are my thoughts.

  1. Make time for conversation
  2. Be willing to really LISTEN. Don’t keep talking, be quiet – it’s not about you
  3. Let them just talk – don’t interrupt them
  4. Be mindful about what you hear – show respect and understanding
  5. Don’t show judgment (even if you feel it)
  6. Always be encouraging
  7. Be positive – smile and nod
  8. Make them feel like their topic of conversation is the most important topic right now
  9. Talk about and work through different solutions/emotions
  10. Check-in a few days later

I might not always get this right – I’m probably going to fail at this many times over. However, I’m hoping that I will remember these tips when in conversation with my children, whatever their age. I don’t want them to ever feel as if I am too busy. Because, in reality, it only takes a second to put down my phone, or stop washing the dishes, etc. and that second can have an impact that lasts forever!

What tips do you have in creating a conversation with your children?

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